August 15th – Edith Nesbit

Life will give you what you ask of here if only you ask long enough and plainly enough.

Edith Nesbit was born August 15, 1858 in Kennington, Surrey in the England. Her father died when she was just four years old, and after his death her family moved around, from England to France and Spain and Germany, to care for her sister Mary’s ill health. Her sister died in 1871, the same year as she got engaged to a poet. Edith was 13. After her sister’s death, her and her mother lived in Kent, before moving to London. The following year, at eighteen, Nesbit met Hubert Bland, a bank clerk. She fell in love with him, and they married on April 22, 1880. Edith was 7 months pregnant with his child, but the couple did not live together – as Hubert continued to live with his mother, and another lover who he was also engaged, and who was also pregnant with his child. This was just the start of her future husband’s infidelities. In 1886 Edith discovered her good friend, Alice Hoatson, was also pregnant with her husband’s child. After a violent quarrel Edith agreed to let Alice continue to live with them as their housekeeper, and she adopted their child Rosamund. She would also adopt the child Alice had 13 years later with Hubert – a son named John. Edith had three children by Bland as well – Paul, Mary and Fabian. Fabian died at the age of 15 after a tonsil operation, after which Edith really threw herself into writing. 

Nesbit first published a poem, “Under the Trees,” in 1878 at the age of 19. During her career she published 40 books for children, including novels, collection fo stories and picture books, and collaborated on many others – including with her husband Hubert and adopted daughter Rosamund. Her best known works are The Story of the Treasure Seekers (1899) from her Bastable Series, The Railway Children (1906), Five Children and It (1902), and The Story of the Amulet (1906) from the Psammead series.

author Edith Nesbit

She is considered the first modern writer for children – using a voice and imagination that was not didactic but rather imaginative. 

Edith was a socialist, and her and her husband were founders of the Fabian Society in 1884. She was an active lecturer and prolific writers on socialism, and although she worked furiously to secure her family’s financial well being, she staunchly opposed women working or voting. 

In 1917, three years after her husband Hubert died, Nesbit remarried Thomas “the Skipper” Tucker, and seemed to find comfort in the man in which she had his whole heart. 

Edith Nesbit died May 4, 1924. 

Lesson From Nesbit

At a young age, during the Victorian Era in England when expectations of women’s propriety and morality was at an all time high, Nesbit got pregnant and married a man some called a philandering bully. Although it went against society’s beliefs, even Nesbit herself’s outspoken beliefs, in order to care of herself and her family, both mentally and financially, she dove headlong into the world of writing, creating a successful career and leaving behind a legacy that has inspired countless authors and lives behind her, including P.L. Travers, C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s